Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 16th 2015 Contents A7
Thursday, July 16, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
The Debates Commission may
have some questions to answer,
say political analysts on the lead-
ers debate deadlock.
The organisation said it had not
been able to bring about a com-
promise between representatives
of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
Bissessar and Opposition Leader
Dr Keith Rowley over the setting
of a date for "The Great Debate"
The PM said the Debates Com-
mission initially told her the debate
was to be held on July 30 and she
cleared her diary for that day to
accommodate the event. She said
she had an email confirming the
July 30 date.
Rowley said the commission
told him it was to be held on
August 17, after all general election
candidates had filed their nomi-
nation papers with the Elections
and Boundaries Commission, and
that s what he would adhere to.
He said it was the United National
Congress (UNC) that changed the
date to July 30.
Each leader has been unrelent-
ing, resulting in an impasse over
the event s staging.
"I think the problem may lie
with the organisation that has the
responsibility for setting it up,"
political analyst Maukesh Basdeo
"Neither the Prime Minister nor
the Opposition Leader has said
they did not want to debate.
"But there is confusion over one
set of information being relayed
to the Prime Minister and another
"Caribbean New Media Group
has even said the commission
agreed, in principle, to stage the
debate on its television station on
"The commission has not
cleared up all this as yet," Basdeo
As for the Debates Commission
stating it had not been able to
bring about a compromise
between the two leaders, he said,
"That should have been simple.
Have one debate on July 30 and
another in August."
Political analyst Dr Bishnu
Ragoonath said the debate stand-
still was a result of "politricks".
"I don t think the commission
is to blame. I don t know that it
is mischief on the part of the com-
"I think it s politricks. It s the
campaign season and everybody
wants to show who s in charge.
It s simply a matter of who has
Party political leader
Jack Warner says he did
not bring his allegations
of misconduct by Prime
Minister Kamla Persad-
Bissessar to the attention
of the Police Service
because he has no con-
fidence in that organisa-
tion s ability to complete
In a telephone interview yesterday,
Warner responded to a statement by
Persad-Bissessar, in which she said
Warner should have taken his allega-
tions to the Integrity Commission or
Persad-Bissessar s statement was in
response to a press conference held
by Warner yesterday at the Normandie
Hotel, St Ann s, during which he
alleged that close to $10 million in
bribes was paid to Persad-Bissessar
by two UNC financiers facing criminal
charges, prior to the 2010 general elec-
tion, in exchange for their freedom.
The Prime Minister dismissed
Warner s allegations as "crazy claims"
and said her lawyers intended to stop
the "malicious information" once and
Warner also linked the payment to
the Section 34 proclamation, which
was repealed in 2012, after it was
reported that the law would see the
UNC financiers escape the law.
Yesterday, Warner said neither the
Police Service nor the Integrity Com-
mission had proved efficient in dealing
"I did not report it to the police
because I saw no cause to. I was faith-
ful to the Prime Minister," Warner
Even if he had reported the allega-
tions to the police, he said,
nothing the police had
done to date had given
him confidence that they
would pursue the matter
"Not a single investiga-
tion has been attended to."
Warner listed probes
into Emailgate, Prisongate
and others that the police
had failed to complete over
the past few years.
"I would not even think
of going to the Integrity Commission."
He felt the Integrity Commission
had been compromised and noted that
reports he made two years ago had
not been addressed.
"It made no sense to bring the alle-
gations to their attention."
Responding to remarks that Per-
sad-Bissessar s lawyers were on the
alert, Warner said he wanted the Prime
Minister to pursue legal action.
"I want her to do that. I am waiting
anxiously. I want her lawyers to write
me and send me a pre-action protocol
letter so I will know what to do."
Since shortly after Warner s arrest
in May, following charges of money
laundering and wire fraud laid by the
US Department of Justice in connec-
tion with his tenure as Fifa vice pres-
ident, Warner has made several public
allegations pertaining to misconduct
in public office by Persad-Bissessar.
Warner has also played audio
recordings to support his claims and
said he has evidence of other miscon-
Prior to 2012, Warner was a close
cabinet colleague of Persad-Bissessar
and had acted as prime minister mul-
tiple times. He was fired by the Prime
Minister in the face of allegations of
serious misconduct in his role as Fifa
Warner tells PM
Commission no option
As leaders' debate stalls
Political analyst Derek
Ramsamooj said the
fundamental issue of the
debate had nothing to do with
any of the above.
"The fundamental issue that
faces our democracy is that
only two political leaders are
given the opportunity to
account to the electorate for
their stewardship and to state
their plans and visions.
"That is incorrect. The debate
should not exclude other
political leaders who are prime
Told ILP leader Jack Warner
had indicated he was not
interested, Ramsamooj replied,
"It's not a question of who's
interested or not. It's a question
of extending an invitation to
him." The fact that some
political leaders might not
contest all the seats, he said,
was reason the debate should
take place only after
"You need a minimum of 21
seats to form a government
and all parties putting up a
minimum of 21 candidates
should be invited." He said there
must be transparency even in
the structuring of the debate.
"The mechanisms and
organisation of such a debate
must not be the sole property
of a handful of people. The
debate should not be subject to
any type of manipulation."
Ramsamooj said the national
media should volunteer to
stage such debates for free.
INVITE ALL LEADERS
a member of
uses a pan
pipe during a
the Brian Lara
PAN PIPE MUSIC
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